Thanet green councillor Ian Driver behind plan to bring Amsterdam-style cannabis cafe to Kent
An Amsterdam-style cannabis cafe could be coming to Kent if a former drug-taking councillor gets his way.
A Thanet councillor is organising a meeting next month to discuss a plan to allow users to smoke the illegal class B drug.
Green councillor Ian Driver, himself an ex-recreational drugs user, is the driving force behind the project - and believes the cafe would be a focal point for Thanet where new business ideas could be forged.
A man smoking a cannabis joint. Picture: Sean Gallup/Getty Images
He said the cafe would allow users to consume the drug without fear of arrest in what he has called a "win-win situation".
It is planned the cafe, which would not supply cannabis, would run as a members' club for people to use the drug for recreational or medicinal purposes.
Cllr Driver, from Broadstairs, said: "I think the tide is changing and that people are ready to have this discussion.
"People have got every right to be concerned, but having said that I think there's a lot of exaggeration about the damage cannabis can do..." - Cllr Ian Driver
"It's just going to be like having a cafe or bar opened - no different at all. It's long overdue and is the sensible and right thing to do.
"There would be no dealing, no selling. People would bring their own materials with them to smoke whilst enjoying a drink and a bite to eat.
"I've been talking to local people and got the idea that this would be a natural thing to do - there is definitely a big interest.
"People have got every right to be concerned, but having said that I think there's a lot of exaggeration about the damage cannabis can do.
"It will be new in Thanet, but why not? There are a lot of people interested.
"How we do it is the purpose of the meeting - it's going to be talking about how we practically develop a cafe in Thanet where like-minded people can hang out and relax with their friends."
Cllr Ian Driver believes the cannabis cafe could become a "focal point" for Thanet
He added that decriminalisation of the drug would save the police service time and money and would also generate considerable tax income and create jobs.
"I think, whatever anyone's criticism, that the legalisation of cannabis is a win win for everybody," Cllr Driver added.
"I'm certain that although we're talking about something very controversial today, in 10 years time it will be an absolute normal activity on the high street in all of the towns and cities in this country."
Is it a good idea to open a cannabis cafe?
He added: "It would bring people together and stimulate creativity.The people it would attract could be a focal point for Thanet - getting people together of all ages, developing new ideas and business ventures. I think it's a fantastic thing to do.
"I'd welcome a cannabis cafe on the corner of my street because you not going to be getting the trouble that is often associated with pubs.
"It can cause damage, yes, but so can alcohol, a lot more damage and so can tobacco. So this discussion for Thanet is being realistic and is doing something that there is no reason not to do - people don't need to be frightened."
Cllr Driver, who wants to bring cannabis cafes to Thanet
Cllr Driver has invited Kent police commissioner Ann Barnes to the meeting, along with drug policy experts, which will take place in Broadstairs on Saturday, March 15.
A location is yet to be set, but Cllr Driver said more than 100 local people have already said they will attend.
He posted on Facebook: "I have used recreational drugs on many occasions in the past.
"Although I no longer smoke cannabis I do use alcohol. I personally support decriminalisation of drug use and legalisation in some cases.
"This does not mean that I think drugs are safe and that I would advocate their use. However, decriminalisation and legalisation will save an awful lot of money in policing and will generate considerable tax income and create jobs.
"It will also drive out criminal gangs from the drugs industry and put an end to people getting records for victimless crime.
"I appreciate that feelings run strong on this issue but I believe in having a open debate on controversial issues such as this."
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